Memories and insights

Memories and insights


Listen to personal memories, views and insights of the Crown Jewels and Coronation.

Dr David Souden in conversation with Dr Anna Keay, Sir Roy Strong and Dame Gillian Wagner about their personal memories, views and insights on the Crown Jewels and Coronation.

Dr Anna Keay Curatorial Director of English Heritage, wrote the recent sumptuously-illustrated and scholarly book on the Crown Jewels (published by Thames & Hudson with The Royal Collection and Historic Royal Palaces). Here she reflects on the regalia and their history, showing and understanding them, and on her own research into the court of Charles II.
Listen to the podcast here >


Sir Roy Strong one of the leading British art and cultural historians, wrote the modern authoritative account of English coronations. As a schoolboy, he was selected to watch the 1953 coronation procession. Here he uses those memories to ponder the past, present and future of the coronation ceremony.
Listen to the podcast here >


Dame Gillian Wagner who has had a distinguished public career in social work charities, is the widow of Sir Anthony Wagner, Garter King of Arms. She was present inside Westminster Abbey on 2 June 1953, as the wife of a herald, and had a grandstand view. Dame Gillian shares her very personal memories about the day, the ceremonies, and her husband's role.
Listen to the podcast here > 



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The Crown Jewels are often the very first things which come to mind when people think of the Tower of London. These amazing objects, so valuable not just in terms of money but also history, capture people's imaginations.


Memories Project

Over 250 people from community groups near the Tower of London took part in a project which aimed to gather people's memories and share stories of the Crown Jewels and coronations. To coincide with the Diamond Jubilee of Her Majesty The Queen, we captured some people's memories of the Crown Jewels and any memories that they have of seeing them in use, such as at coronations or the State Opening of Parliament.

Edna Muford, who as a young seamstress helped make robes for guests at the coronation of King George VI in 1937, organised a street party for the coronation of Elizabeth II in 1953 and remembers seeing the Crown Jewels in their old home of the Wakefield Tower (they are now in the Waterloo Barracks).
Listen to the podcast here >

‘Oh beautiful ain’t they?! Oh yes – stunning! If you’ve never seen them, well, you’re missing something.’
Ellen Nelson

Jenna Jenson and Nelly Ando remember the Coronation and sing a song which they were taught as children in Sierra Leone for The Queen's coronation in 1953.
Listen to the podcast here >

‘[When we went to the Tower after the Second World War] I liked it very much, but I didn’t think much of the Crown Jewels because in those days they were very badly displayed and badly lit and you just shuffled past them going ‘ooh aaahhh corr’ and that sort of thing! It’s much better displayed now.’
Maureen Tyson

Jeanne Tongs remembers watching the coronation on television and seeing the Crown Jewels at the opening of parliament.
Listen to the podcast here >

‘[The Crown Jewels] were great – and well secured – nobody could nick them!’
Diesel Roberts

Rose Trotman remembers watching the Coronation on television and the Queen of Tonga.
Listen to the podcast here >

‘They were like fairytale things, you know, all sparkly and gittery with these magnificent jewels…like nothing that you’d seen in colour before. I remember seeing the Coronation at a very young age in black and white, so seeing these jewels in colour was really absolutely astounding!’
Sophia Applebee

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